Benedict, a year on

Popes Francis and Benedict

Popes Francis and Benedict

The following comes from a Feb. 11 posting on Whispers in the Loggia.

Since stepping away, the now Pope-emeritus has broadly held to his plan for his retirement to be spent “hidden from the world.” From his base in the former Mater Ecclesiae convent in the Vatican Gardens, Benedict – who’ll be 87 in April – is said to spend his days with the books he once called his “old friends,” still engaged in theological study, though he’s not expected to write again. A midday walk in the Vatican Gardens is often followed by time at the piano. Company does come, but the invitations tend to be limited to a relatively tight circle of longtime allies, who can be sufficiently trusted to not leak what he says.

The mail is another story, however. A lengthy letter Benedict wrote an atheist author last November was published in La Repubblica with his consent, and in yesterday’s edition of the leftist daily, it emerged that Ratzinger had resumed correspondence with Hans Kung, his colleague-turned-rival of half a century, who he famously hosted for dinner months after his election.

Reading from a note dated January 24th in a Repubblica interview, Kung quoted Benedict as saying that “I’m grateful to be linked by a great identity [sic] of views and a friendship of the heart with Pope Francis. I now see supporting his pontificate in prayer as my only and final work.”

For his part, Kung lauded his old friend for “thinking more of the destiny of the church than of any regard for himself.”

Even as the notion of a new book from his pen has repeatedly been nixed, one forthcoming volume should be of high interest: Peter Seewald, the once atheist German journalist who became Ratzinger’s favorite interviewer over the course of three book-length conversations (most recently in 2010), is set to release a biography of the 265th Pope. According to Italian reports, the work will be published by the LEV, the Vatican publishing house. While Seewald returned to Castel Gandolfo to roll more tape with Benedict in summer 2012, those exchanges remain unpublished.

To mark the anniversary, Ratzinger’s closest aide – Archbishop Georg Gänswein, who remains Benedict’s live-in private secretary as well as prefect of the Papal Household – has been on a media blitz which has included defenses of the often-misunderstood, frequently-fraught last pontificate. In a weekend conversation with Reuters, Don Giorgio said that for B16, “the measure of one’s work, of one’s way of doing things, is not what the mass media write but what is just before God and before conscience…. And, if it is fair, history in the end will reflect this.”

Having regained his old form after a rough patch immediately following his departure from Peter’s Chair, Benedict is only known to have left the Vatican once since his return in May, going to Rome’s Gemelli Policlinic in early January to visit his brother, Msgr Georg Ratzinger, who had fallen ill while visiting with his lone surviving sibling. (A German TV special to mark the Papstbruder-emeritus’ 90th birthday last month featured a brief chat between Benedict and the program’s host.)

Likened by his successor to “a wise grandpop living at home,” the retired pontiff swapped Christmas visits with Francis, who treated him to lunch at the Domus. Knowing his predecessor’s special affection for the papacy’s “Camp David” in the Alban Hills, last summer Francis reportedly invited Benedict to stay at Castel Gandolfo whenever he wished, but Papa Ratzinger declined, instead encouraging the new pontiff to make it his own. (Francis, of course, himself shirked the villa, preferring to spend the summer in Rome’s oppressive heat. The move drained the Alban village of much of the Pope-driven summer tourism on which the local economy heavily relies.)

When it comes to drawing back, though, perhaps no commitment was tougher for Benedict to give up than the Schülerkreis, Ratzinger’s annual summer seminar and reunion with his doctoral students, whose last edition took place without him for the first time in nearly four decades. As the late-August gathering was still held at Castel – its 2013 focus on “The question of God in the context of secularization” – the Doktorvater welcomed his students to the Vatican for a morning Mass.

The homily that day made for Benedict’s most extensive public utterance since resigning, and perhaps the most pointed. A true Christian must “the last in the opinion of the world,” he said, because “he who in this world and [its] history is perhaps pushed ahead and arrives in the first places must know he is in danger, he must look at the Lord more, measure himself to Him, measure himself to the responsibility of the other, he must become one who serves, one who in reality is seated at the feet of the other.”

Going on to “Christ, the Son of God, came down to serve us and this is the essence of God, which consists in bending down to us,” the Pope-emeritus added that humiliation is “elevation,” making “the Cross… in reality, the true exaltation.”

As most of B16’s few post-resignation appearances have been alongside his successor, he’s widely expected to be present with Francis on 27 April, as the Pope canonizes Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II.

To read the entire posting, click here.



  1. Laurette Elsberry says:

    Oh how I miss Pope Benedict XVI!

  2. I miss him too!
    Advanced age, and bad health, along with fighting the corruption within the Church was a combination that took its toll.

    God bless Pope Benedict XVI ( Joseph Ratzinger.)
    And thank you so much for all your work on the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition”.

  3. Pope Benedict XVI is (was) a great teacher of the Catholic Faith. He has left us everything in writing: Jesus of Nazareth, The Spirit of the Liturgy, In the Beginning, and five books on the collected Wednesday catecheses.

    I an so very grateful he was our Pope. Viva.

    Heilige Vater vielen Dank für Summorum Pontificum.

  4. Me as well Laurette. Will there ever be such a Great man again.

    • No, Papi, there will never be such a great man again. The world is crumbling. Jesus has abandoned us. We cannot survive without a German at the helm. Woe to us!
      (Read: get real. The Holy Spirit is always with the Church, and just as people though the world ended when Pope John Paul II died, now some are imagining all is lost because Pope Benedict resigned. Please!!!)

      • Your Fellow Catholic says:

        And OH PLEASE pray that there will not be a third edition of the CCC! Woe are we who would regret that those who stake there lives upon the very letters of the words of the phrases of CCC 2 ed might have to adjust to a third rendition of our True Faith. And let us never mention a Third Vatican Council!

        • A Third Vatican Council would be the worst thing that could happen to our Church. Maybe we should stay under the radar screen then.

  5. Laurette Elsberry says:

    What I am also most grateful for is his “Letter to Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”, commonly referred to as the “Ratzinger Letter”. This was a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the of the Faith and was approved by Pope John Paul II, in 1986.
    One of the most important statements in the document is paragraph 15, which I quote in part: “We encourage the bishops, then, to provide pastoral care in full accord with the teaching of the Church for homosexual persons of their dioceses. No authentic pastoral program will include organizations in which homosexual persons associate with each other without clearly stating that homosexual activity is immoral.” What does this mean? It means that all the “church” programs that have been developed like Always Our Children, New Ways Ministry, Dignity, National Association of Catholic Diocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministries, Catholic Association of Lesbian and Gay Ministries, Communidad, etc., are contrary to authentic Church teaching and should not be permitted with Catholic Church affirmation. Is there one of these programs operating in your diocese? Ask your bishop why he is allowing this in direct contradiction to authentic Church teaching.

    • Michael McDermott says:

      Well Said Laurette!

      One of the most troubling factors in dealing with Some Clergy and Many ‘professional catholics’ of the bureaucracy (as Pope Benedict the Wise also referred to them) has been their outright retaliatory hostility to Faithful Catholics Supporting the Teachings of Our Pope & Church.

      Like many who sought honest insight in to the Real Position of the Church on these issues – I carefully read and worked through documents such as you cite, and brought them to attention of certain Clergy for further insight…

      Only to find that even mention, let alone Agreement and Inspiration from these Wise Works – was grounds for all manner of extreme hostility. Those preaching ‘tolerance’ – were massively intolerant of even open discussion, let alone praise for the Pope (John Paul the Great) or his Cardinal (then Ratzinger) become Benedict the Wise.

      Indeed – in know of one Bay Area Church where the Pope Benedict’s Picture was removed, and another where the Music Director stomps out of the room when his Wise Moral Teachings are Praised.

    • Your Fellow Catholic says:

      How so very conveniently forget the REST of the document that you praise. So instead of my expounding upon it, since you believe this to be Benedict’s greatest work, why don’t You have a go at what he meant, especially what he meant for the heterosexual remainder of the church in regard to the issue of gay people?

  6. God blessed us by giving us Pope Benedict, even for a brief time. His prayers will guide the Church through these tumultuous, and sometimes, frightening times. We should all pray daily for Pope Francis.

  7. Michael McDermott says:

    Like many admirers of Pope Benedict the Wise – I believe his most important legacy is in his written interpretation and expression of the Wise Moral Teachings of the Faith…

    – Particularly that which is found in the Magisterium (online now at and often promulgated under John Paul the Great, while Benedict (then Cardinal Ratzinger) was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    The Legacy of Pope Benedict and the Great Truths he has held up for us to understand and follow, is a source of much Pride to the Faithful – although it provokes ever growing persecutions from the Thought Police who it challenges, who in turn are out to destroy the Freedom of Conscience Our Magisterium so Joyfully Celebrates.
    Pope Francis asks world to pray for Benedict XVI – Living Faith – Home & Family – Catholic Online

    • Thank you Laurette Elsberry for your clarifying post! Michael McDermott you are citing the real experiences of even good priests who brought these clear teachings up to those in authority including bishops. These good priests were treated as if they were pariah. In some cases these good priests included documented facts that showed an ongoing pattern of clergy courting a culture of promoting homosexuality which included young boys being abused. That did not seem to matter either. It WAS the false god of homosexuality that was guarded and NOT the Deposit of the Faith. This was scandalizing to many good priests and they were even more scandalized when they were intimidated with retribution if they brought these facts up again. It took faithfulness and courage to report that homosexuality was rampant and that the teachings were not being guarded which included young men and boys being harmed. Imagine the sobering shock when learning that those who have the authority to stop these errors and also protect young boys, are now attacking the faithful priests who are only doing their duty as a Catholic priest. This is why it is important for the faithful to speak up. This is why CCD is important. Recently, a priest told Michael Voris what happened to him when he went to his superiors to report his experience in witnessing the courting of homosexuality at a clergy Christmas party. This faithful priest did the right thing and he was told to be quiet or else there would be consequences.


      • continued February 15, 2014 at 2:11 pm

        The laity will not be threatened with intimidations of having faculties removed for speaking up but a faithful priest will receive that intimidating threat. A faithful priest cannot in good conscience allow an atmosphere where sin is invited in to flourish and take root and then look the other way, especially when he knows that young boys have been and will be harmed. A priest that I spoke with in Kentucky lived this evil nightmare and he ended up leaving the priesthood because those in authority used their apostolic gift as an abusive weapon to silence instead of guarding the deposit of faith and the flock. We have witnessed this subtly clever undermining on CCD from those who claim to be in full communion with Rome when faithful priests such as Father Guarnizo uphold Church clear teaching regarding homosexuality. The apostles should have never fallen asleep to leave Jesus alone in the Agony of the Garden. The apostolic successors and the laity should not be caught off guard or sleeping and always speak up and defend the Truth when they see a faithful alter Christus or any modern day St. John of the Cross being abandoned in the modern day Garden of Betrayal. Silenced and persecuted for simply following in the footsteps of Christ and behaving like a REAL CATHOLIC PRIEST!

  8. Oh, woe is me!
    Without Pope Benedict running the Church, all is lost!

  9. This blog has quotes from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. You can search according to well over 200 topics from Abortion to Youth. This blogger seems to have stopped in October. I hope he will continue. It is an awesome project.

  10. Hello?
    You keep talking about “Pope Benedict,” but the Roman Catholic Church has only one Pope and his name is Francis.
    As for the “good old days,” they never were.
    People whined then, and people are whining now.

    • Benedict XVI gave us back the Traditional Mass that was suppressed but never repealed. So these were the good old days for many of us.

      • Gratias, the TLM is growing, so the good old days are not over.
        They are just starting.
        Have faith.
        More seminaries are teaching students how to celebrate the TLM, and here in San Francisco, two parishes on Geary Boulevard have the TLM daily!
        (St Monica and Star of the Sea.)

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